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Investor groups call on FTSE 350 firms to comply with Modern Slavery

3 May 2020

Rathbones, along with a host of large investor groups, have called on FTSE 350 companies to comply with the Modern Slavery Act.

Matt Crossman, stewardship director, Rathbones, has sent letters to non-compliant FTSE 350 companies, urging them to meet the reporting requirements of section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. The landmark Act requires all UK companies over a certain size to report in detail their approach to finding and eliminating modern slavery within their supply chains.

The targeted letters outline the clear nature of non-compliance, the steps required to comply and an explanation that members of the engagement coalition will consider withholding support for the approval of the annual report and accounts at the company’s next AGM should they not choose to act.

Twenty other investors, including heavyweights Aberdeen Standard, Aviva Investors and Legal & General, are signatories to the letter, representing combined total assets under management of £3.2 trillion.

Crossman said: “As long-term investors, we believe it is fundamentally important that companies comply with all provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to demonstrate a strong commitment to fighting modern slavery. Non-compliance poses a serious risk to long-term investors and leads us to question the suitability of investing in such companies.”

Archie Pearson, ESG and voting analyst, Rathbones, added: “We initiated the activity through the Principles for Responsible Investment Collaboration Platform and the level of support shows how seriously investors are taking this issue. We will carry out a further round of engagement with non-compliant companies, including the possibility of questioning management during AGMs.”

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